The Saints Gallery @E4Unity does not sub-divide by heritage: you have to look elsewhere for that.

However, since I mentioned this week a celebration of 400 years of the Baptist heritage, I thought I might add a few names of Baptists here in America that would be in any Saints gallery: men like George W. Truett, Walter Rauschenbusch, and Martin Luther King. Each one a Baptist minister, each one made tremendous contributions to the Church of Christ as well as to America, but very different in their gifts and perspectives involving their Christian faith and how it was manifested in their individual and professional lives.

baptist

Walter Rauschenbusch – A German-Baptist that worked among the working poor in the early 189o’s and developed what became known as the “social gospel”. But it would be a great mistake to brand his ministry by that phrase without trying to understand the man himself and his environment, which is suddenly not so strange to our own situation.

Rauschenbusch sought to combine his old evangelical passion (which he never abandoned) with his new social awareness. He adopted critical approaches to the Bible and identified himself with liberal theologians like Albrecht Ritschl and Adolf Harnack. The kingdom of God became the theme by which he pulled together his views on religion and science, piety and social action, Christianity and culture. Did he get it right? He certainly tried.

George W. Truett – Known as a great Preacher and educator, Dr.Truett was pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas,Texas, for 47 years (until his death in 1944). His influence and contribution to the city of Dallas and the Southern Baptist Convention is astounding. But he was also a strong advocate in this country for religious liberty and his spirit in the above link-a 1920 address on the steps of our nation’s Capitol building, is very different than the recent voices of the “religious right”.

What is the explanation of this consistent and notably praiseworthy record of our plain Baptist people in the realm of religious liberty? The answer is at hand. It is not because Baptists are inherently better than their neighbors — we would make no such arrogant claim. Happy are our Baptist people to live side by side with their neighbors of other Christian communions, and to have glorious Christian fellowship with such neighbors, and to honor such servants of God for their inspiring lives and their noble deeds. From our deepest hearts we pray: “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” The spiritual union of all true believers in Christ is now and ever will be a blessed reality, and such union is deeper and higher and more enduring than any and all forms and rituals and organizations.

Martin Luther King – I can only add here my personal appreciation for this man and what he gave his life for; a vision that went far beyond his own race or time. When you are able to appreciate the Black church heritage and especially their own preaching tradition, then you have no hesitation to tag him as one the outstanding preachers in our generation. God gave him an incredible mind and speech pattern that was all his own. Take a few minutes to listen to his speech against the Viet Nam War at the link above. You may not agree with his politics but surely you will agree  that he has left a large legacy, especially in the principles of non-violence for all religious people.

So these and many other men and women in our history were of the Baptist heritage and some use to speak of that as a “large tent” with room for greatly diverse convictions. Each one testified to Christ from their own perspective. I have not tried to hide the weaknesses or the warts of any of these men-that is not for me to do. The Baptists are making giganic contributions in almost every field; education (there are more Baptist Colleges and Universities in America than any other faith), healthcare (hospitals and clinics and a host of human service centers), and orphanages, and especially in advancing world-wide the gospel of the Kingdom.

These are just a few reasons to celebrate what God has been able to do through the people called the Baptists these last 400 years. To God be the glory great things He has done. If only we had been more obedient we could have greatly multiplied these efforts.

The Love of God by Frederick M.Lehman (1917)

I John 4

The love of God is greater far
than tongue or pen can ever tell;
it goes beyond the highest star,
and reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave his Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
and pardoned from his sin.

O Love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure:
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
and earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
on rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
all measureless and strong;
redeeming grace to Adam’s race –
the saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
and every man a scribe by trade,
to write the love of God above
would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
though stretched from sky to sky.

Frederick M.Lehman wrote “The Love of God” based on a Jewish poem written in Aramaic in 1050 by Meir Ben Issac Nenorai – a cantor in Worms, Germany.

copyright 1917, renewed 1945     Listen to the HYMN
By Nazarene Publishing House


 

The Cry of The Skeptics to the Religious

 

 

I had a wonderful idea sometime after hearing of Elder D.J. Ward’s death and upon reading an amazing post by Mary Louise. I have collected over the years a file in my computer I call “The Saints Gallery”. It is just a small sampling of men like Elder Ward that I have known personally or that during my short lifetime I have been privileged to know something of their influence in the world. The idea has grown that I must share that on my blog as it is such a part of the influence of others on who I am.

 

Mary Louise post is letting us in on who she is, “a Vatican kid”. (see ROOTS)  Here she is quoting from a book, Man the Saint:

 

Those who abandon the one true God very soon become slaves of the most barren dryness of soul. They are simply pagans: and to-day they can be seen all around us straining their sightless eyes, vainly seeking that happiness for which their instincts cry out, groping about in the dark, blindly trying to find the way, the truth and the life. We try to help them. We have told them a thousand times to look to our Christ. They have tried to look but they see nothing. We have shouted at them that Christ is alive, really alive, the same man that He always was and always will be, but the force of our arguments was quenched by their cold indifference. And yet it is easy enough to understand this dryness and bitterness in the souls of these poor pagans when we read the cynical challenge in their eyes: “Show us by your lives that Christ is alive.” Their argument is all too just. We cannot expect them to be won over by treatises on apologetics and theology, some of them too dry and formal. Their argument is fair enough: “Show us by your lives that Christ is alive.”

 

But then the quote takes an unexpected turn and before you can leave off reading, it’s too late; the arrow of truth has been sunk deep within. This in turn introduces the topic of the Saints as commonly understood by the faithful in the Catholic tradition. My “Saint’s Gallery” postings will hopefully answer the challenge from the skeptics and declare there are lives that demonstrate that Christ is alive and walks among us even though they may be far too few. And these lives will demonstrate that even the best of the Saints are all clay vessels with their warts and all, not exactly the common understanding.

 

One final quote from the post of Mary Louise, in hopes you will want to take time to read it all.

 

“ It is a cause for bitter regret to see the insipid and crumbling spectacle we present to the world after twenty centuries of so-called progress. Our world is full of living Christians, but yet it is the lifeless who are in command. We have churches in plenty, but so few good lives. All we lack is lives, lives to inspire the dead, to convince them, to strengthen the wills of poor weak mortals,to enlighten the minds of the diseased, to soften the selfish hearts of greedy materialists –

passionate lives,         

generous lives,                                                 

 So few good lives!”

 

This is also what my earlier post on “The Most Powerful Force on Earth” is about.